Last night (and part of this morning), Vodofone hosted Ghana’s version of the MTV/American Music Awards in this year’s edition of the Ghana Music Awards Festival. Whereas the average American Awards show is 2-3 hours, the VGMAs was an endurance testing 6-7 hour affair which ended around 5 am GMT.
Reviews of the show have been mixed, with a number of people of the opinion that this was the worst VGMAs they’ve ever seen. This was my first time watching the show, and I felt privileged to be able to view it online. The fact that it was streaming worldwide was a win as far as I was concerned. I’m not a big awards show fan and avoid them wherever possible, but the VGMAs was worth eschewing my principles for just one night. It was many things: entertaining, confusing, dull and inspiring. Here are my favorite moments.
The Red Carpet
Sister Durrrby’s Dress: Ghana Twitter went absolutely insane over Deborah Vanessa’s dress last night. Hands down, she was the best dressed entity out there. I’m talking better decorated than the stage, the lights, and any bi-pedal being at the show. Sister Durrrby is often makes fashion statements with her clothing (or lack thereof *ahem* nudes *ahem*) and last night was no exception. She was a stunning mix of old world fantasy, modernity and queenliness. The dress was commissioned under the Wusuwaah’s Diary label after Deborah told her she wanted to “look like a princess” for the night. Home run! Check out the label’s tumbl’r account here.
Blaque Boy’s Coat: Chale, chale, chaaaale. Without a doubt, Blaque Boy was the worst dressed person on the red carpet, and that’s a pretty impressive feat, considering he’s a dude. Guys have two choices when it comes to red carpet attire: black or blue. Pick any shade of the two. Occasionally, you may even venture out and try on a white jacket – but even then, one must be careful. White jackets if done incorrectly can be interpreted as an attempt to pose for the new face of the Cream o’ Wheat box. As for Blaque Boy, he threw all caution to the wind and showed up as a mix of ringmaster, paisley upholstery and a meth overdose. And he took these liberties while in the function of the red carpet host. How were any of the viewers supposed to care what the artists where wearing when the host showed up as the conductor for a rave party? I think his coat was made in Ghana, which can be forgiven and is even admirable because…
Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare, Ghana’s Minister of Tourism was filmed strutting the red carpet in a stunning azure dress with crystal details that was made in Morocco. Minister Ofusu-Agyare was trilling on and on about supporting Ghanaian artists and showing the world what Ghana is capable of in a Moroccan dress. What bigger night than this to showcase a local designer? Heh? But it’s okay. These are the tactics of the current government – to tell Ghanaians to patronize made in Ghana goods and then fail to do so themselves at critical moments themselves. She was right in line and step with this lip service administration. Well done, madam minister.
But you know who kept it real? Who kept it absolutely one hunned and ten? Yvonne Nelson. Yvonne Nelson don’t care what none of y’all think, how none of y’all feel or that you’re in your feelings about her looks. In what can only be described as Viola Wig Shedding moment, Ms. Nelson glided down the red carpet in a short ‘fro and bare feet you guys! Just coming off the heels of filming ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ which required her to cut her hair, she chose to rock her natural tresses without pressing, dying, weaving or gluing any attachments. This was really brave, particularly since Ghanaians are so critical of short hair on grown women. (That’s a whole ‘nother discussion.) Asked why her shoes were off, she said “They are Loub’s (Louboutins) and they are beautiful, but they hurt my feet.”
That’s grown woman stuff right there. Someone please come and dash her dambs, because clearly, she is fresh out!
Wiyaala was the opening act for the show and she brought it. She brought that old school – Tina Turner -rock goddess – Grace Jones – AC/DC – that funk and that power to the stage. Whooo! I wish I could find a gif for this one move she did with a back-up dancer where they melded – literally fused bodies – together using nothing but their thighs and toe nails. Then she did a back bend while balancing on his quads. I was like “ OH MY GAWD!!!!” And she never missed a note while singing Tinambanyi (Here We Come). I’m getting chills just recalling it. She looked like a frikking warrior deity. Someone said she could have taken bold Leonidas’ position in 300: Rise of the Strong Women. I agree. She’s taking the musical game, devouring it, and asking for seconds.
I love that woman.
Dark Suburb. Humph. These boys. (Or boys and girls, no one knows.) Their show was so full of energy. I was exhausted! There were flipping dwarfs, bare chested dudes painted in white clay, lightening, growling, strips of leather; You get the picture. They are just different and in a league of their own. But as impressive as they are/were they couldn’t touch…
The Compozers Lawd have mercy. I said lawd *stomp* have *stomp* merrrrcy!!!!!! They opened up their set with a rock inspired, smooth version of the Ghanaian national anthem that was so incisive in its delivery it almost made me proud to be a Ghanaian again. (No seriously, the country is so wrecked I feel like we’re living through a lost episode of LOTR: The Desolation of Mahama.)
Musicianship is something we’re losing not only in Ghana, but globally, so it’s always a thrill to see people who can still play an instrument. My generation is the last to remember what it was like to go to a show with full bands backing a singer exclusively, rather than a DJs turn tables and it’s great to know that this sort of performance isn’t going the way of the pterodactyl just yet.
Wiyaala won awards for Best Female Vocalist and Best Songwriter, both well deserved. She worked really hard this year and the lyrics to all of her songs are important and impacting. When ascending the stage to accept her award, she brought her mother along to accept it with her. (Her mom also brought along her handbag.) Wiyaala has spoken frequently about her mother’s unwavering support for her dream to sing and entertain, and as a mother myself, watching the two of them together in that moment got me right in the uterus.
You know what else was special? Lydia Forson’s face when her co-presenter starting rambling in broken English and fake slangs about his business prowess and innovation. Apparently, every Ghanaian award show that was ever performed in the history of mankind was his idea. I asked Lydia to tell me exactly what she was thinking and in what exact order, but she hasn’t yet. She doesn’t need to. Every woman watching her face that moment was thinking it too.
As excruciating as that was to watch, it was not nearly as painful as waiting for Daddy Lumba to take the stage to perform his set. Daddy Lumba’s back up dancers deserve the MVP Award for the night. This living legend sent 4 women in black booty shorts and crop tops to dance on stage like four hapless kittens while he sat back stage doing God-knows-what for a full 8 minutes. That’s 8 minutes of dead TV air time, watching 4 grown women jiggle and gyrate to nothing. Someone buy them Poki and meat pie. They’ve earned it!
Reggie Rockstone’s refusal to speak in English touched my heart. His group VVIP won something (by this time I was getting sleepy and didn’t care who won what), but in his portion of the acceptance speech (delivered in Twi), he commanded the entire auditorium to stand up and sing him ‘Happy Birthday’.
They sang in English.
In 2007 Tic Tac, aka Ghana’s Busta Rhymes, had a hit called ‘Philomena’. It was about a girl who had poor personal hygiene. It was/is arguably his best and most well-known song. He forgot all the words to this song on stage. Every last lyric. Why?
Akosua Agyapong is like our Rosie Perez. She was our Jennifer Lopez in the Fly Girls days. Akosua Agyapong did the robot during last night VGMAs. Akosua can’t dance anymore.
At one point, every hip life/hip hop was on stage pretending to be the African Oliver Twist, asking crazy questions like “please sir, can I have some more”. Apparently, they want the Ghana Music Association to make sure they are still getting paid when they are “no longer relevant”.
Come on now. If you know you are planning to be irrelevant as an artist in a few years, invest your money NOW…and I mean right NOW.
As strange as that request was, nothing beat Blaque Boy’s slangs. He was speaking clear, intelligible English, but he just didn’t sound…right. Here, try this: Put your fist in your mouth. Now say ‘cup cake’. Now talk like that for the rest of the day. You see the problem?
I can’t wait for next year!